3 Ways To Welcome Feedback As A Leader

Leaders are constantly trying to give feedback to their team. It’s essential that your team know whether or not what they’re doing is correct. Thus feedback has to be given.

But how often do you stop and welcome feedback as a leader? Stop and think about that…

If you’re like most leaders, you’ll discover you haven’t been receiving feedback as often as you should. Maybe not at all.

It’s easy to dismiss feedback the further up the chain you get. Whether it’s as an organizational leader or the leader of your home. The higher you rise, the harder it is to welcome feedback.

To become a great leader though, you have to be open to feedback. Feedback tells you whether or not you’re doing something right, if it’s effective, or if things need to change.

Start listening to the feedback given to you.

1. Ask for feedback: Ouch! This can hurt. When we ask for feedback, we’re asking for some pain.

Go to those on your team and in your community that you know will give you honest feedback. Don’t let them hold anything back. If they do, you’re not getting the whole story.

You may also want tot let those giving the feedback what areas you feel you’re struggling in. Ask them for suggestions on what you can do better.

2. Allow for anonymous feedback: There will be some situations where people are uncomfortable sharing their feedback with you. It may be in fear of retaliation (though if you’re working towards becoming a great leader, this shouldn’t be a concern of anyone on your team), they may not want to hurt your feelings, or they may think you’re not serious.

When people are allowed to give anonymous feedback, they’re also able to be more open and honest. Things people wouldn’t say to your face are able to be written in confidence and shared.

3. Announce the feedback: Many people hold back their feedback because they feel it’s not being listened to. This can be detrimental to your organization. You want to hear the feedback and you want your team to know you’re hearing them!

Help encourage the feedback by sharing some of the feedback that has been given. Let your team know you realize there are areas of you need to work on. And that you’re taking their suggestions seriously.

After you’ve shared the feedback, inform the team of the changes you intend to make. Lay out a plan and let them hold you accountable.

Feedback is an important part as you grow to become a great leader. Don’t hide from it. Embrace it. Ask for it. Welcome it.

Question: How do you welcome feedback as a leader? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • For me, this uncomfortable process hit closest to home during a men’s experience with my church. Before the weekend retreat, we asked our wives to rate us in certain areas, to do a spiritual gifts survey, and to list the area in need of greatest improvement. Naturally, I was confident that my wife would confess my perfection.

    What I found through her honest feedback, though, was terrifying. If the only feedback you get is from yourself, feedback from others will be painful– and astoundingly constructive.

    • Justin, I can see that being very uncomfortable process, especially with the honest feedback coming from your your spouse.

      While that feedback was horrifying, I’m sure it was also helpful, right? You were able to see the areas you were lacking in and what needs to be done to correct them.

      • Absolutely. I should qualify. My wife’s feedback showed me that those gifts I was manifesting in public or in other settings were not following me home. So the terrifying part was that I was leaving it all at the door– or all somewhere else– and failing to lead at home.

        • I think that happens to a lot of leaders out there. They give all of their good gifts to those outside of the family, since they’re working hard. Care to share any steps you took to bring those gifts home?

          • An important first step is recognizing the problem and digging for the roots. Because my wife and I worked together in her family’s business, a lot of stress was placed on our relationship and I was counting our interaction at work towards our interaction at home. Now that I am no longer employed there, we are working toward a deeper, more genuine relationship at home.

            I’ll give you an update when we figure it out haha!

  • I have found that having informal times where I am one on one with my people has been a good way to get feedback. You have to build a connection with people before that happens but it’s also a great way to get candid feedback.

    • Sounds like you’re on the right track Brandon. Finding ways to connect with our teams is vital to the health and can provide much more honest feedback. What’s one suggestion you have for connecting with your team in an informal setting?

      • I like to walk over to a cafe or coffee shop and get them a drink and chat with them about how things are going while we are out. It’s only about 10 minutes time but effective.

        • Awesome! And I bet they like the fact you’re willing to pick up the tab for the feedback.

  • I usually ask for feedback verbally, either one on one or in a small group setting. I like the suggestion of allowing for anonymous feedback. There may be some people who have something to say but are too afraid of conflict to speak up.

    • Sean, that’s why I put have an anonymous feedback system. There are those who are either unwilling to speak up face-to-face or who are introverted and don’t like the confrontation feedback can bring.

  • I ask my direct reports to tell me one thing they’d like to see me do differently during our one-on-ones. I am fortunate to have a boss now who gives feedback regularly, which makes a big difference. You need to look to those higher than you and lower than you when it comes to feedback.

    • I like that you’re also going up the chain to receive feedback Tom. Sometimes we forget that as well.

    • Your direct reports are fortunate to have a leader like you, Tom.

  • This may not relate 100% with what you’re asking, but when blogging, to determine what my readers want from me, I created a survey and asked them to fill it out. I also set the responses at the maximum setting of 1000 so that it will stay “open” for a long time. I check the results periodically, to see if anyone else has taken it, and to remind myself what my readers want.

    • Lorraine, no, this fits quite well with what I asked. You’re welcoming the feedback by asking for it. Have you seen a good response from the survey?

      • Many of my readers have taken my survey. All 33 of them! 🙂

        • Awesome! I’m thinking of implementing a survey to my eaders as well. I’d love to learn more about them and how I can serve them better.

          • I like polldaddy. That’s how I did mine. You can embed it into your blog, and set the number of responses to 1000 so that you can continually get feedback. If you have a rough idea of how many readers you have, then you will know when you have polled them, since it tells you when you check your results. You can also occasionally link back to it to remind readers to take it. For me, I have it in a post, and on my Welcome page. That way, new readers can take it, too.

            • I hadn’t heard of PollDaddy until your comment. It looks like it may work for what I’m looking for. My other thought was to use Google Docs and create a survey out of one of their forms.

              • Try Polldaddy; you can check your responses anytime, and the results are also laid out for you in percentages. I like it, and find it to be pretty easy to use. And I’m a non-techie!

                • I’ll check it out a bit more and most likely use it. Sounds like it provides quite the service, even at the free level.

                  • Joe, I have had my computer for 6 months. I began two blogs, joined a bunch of sites, ama member of multiple social media platforms, interviewed authors, received books, used several services, and have done much more, too. And it did not cost me a cent!

                    My point is that I am a big lover of all things “free”!!!

                    (Of course, my budget dictates that I must use “free” services, but I have been getting along just fine by doing so. I have lived “in poverty” and so I understand what it is like to have no money. I also like to be a role model for others who don’t have extra money to spend.)

                    There is no shame at all in loving free goods and services! (My blogs are free, too!)

                    • That is so awesome Lorraine. You’ve really taken to the computer and done a lot of things.

                      BTW, I’m a big fan of free as well. It was really funny when my wife and I first got married. My love of free blew her away and sometimes embarrassed her.

                    • I hope you, at least, bought her a ring! A real one; not from a pawn shop!

                      Sometimes you have to splurge…as good as “free” is…

                    • Haha, yes she got a ring though I had told her there wasn’t going to be one.

                    • *Smiling* She must have loved you for that!

                      I think she would have married you, anyway; ring or no ring. Love is not about money! (But it is nice to have a ring. I think it’s a woman thing.*winking*)

                    • Yeah, I think you’re right. She would’ve married me anyways.

                      Our whole engagement process was wonky and not so romantic. However, it makes for a great story.

  • David Hain

    What you give is what you get Joseph! Way to go!

  • Great post Joseph. We are often scared to ask what others think of us because of what they might say. If we truly want to grow, we must be transparent and make sure people know we can always learn something new. We also need to let those we lead know we aren’t perfect.

    • Dave, thanks for offering your opinion. I think you’re spot on with the assessment that we’re often scared of the feedback others might give. How are you overcoming that fear?

      • The most important part is surrounding yourself who will offer criticism when needed and praise when deserved. If you know they care about you, they will want you to get better.

        • Excellent Dave. You’re right when you say that it’s easier to receive criticism from those that care about you.

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  • Tammy Schaefer

    This is so true Joseph! My pastor spoke one Sunday on “What’s it like to be on the other side of me”. He challenged us to get feedback from at least five people. This is so important to help us find our “blindspots” and be a more effective leader. Thanks for the share!

    • That has to be a difficult challenge from your pastor! I’m sure the congregation will see some life changing answers if they follow through Tammy. Are you taking on the challenge?

    • That sounds like a great sermon. I think finding those people to ask for feedback is key. What do you think Tammy?

  • Hi Joe

    Love your suggestions……I think the biggest reason I see for why leaders do not get more feedback is ego. Either their ego can’t take the criticism or their people perceive that ego could be a barrier to receiving the criticism. The more powerful a person becomes, the more important to BE and BE SEEN as humble…..

    • Hey LaRae! I think you’ve hit on a great reason with the ego. That can be a huge detriment to receiving feedback. What suggestions do you have for keeping the ego in check?

  • This is such an important topic. Feedback can allow us to become and lead better. The key is to ask for feedback from trusted sources and those who have our best interests in mind. I have a inner circle of people I ask for advice and feedback.

  • Joe – especially powerful ideas here. I’ve learned that I need to make it safe for others to share, and be mindful of my body language while they share the not so flattering parts.
    And if it becomes obvious that they do not have my best intentions in mind, you can always use Jon Acuff’s phrase: “You might be right” and then move on.

    • Making things safe is an excellent way to invite feedback. Knowing you’re not going to punish or blow up at someone for telling you what you need to hear can allow people to share openly.

  • I think I’m generally pretty open to feedback from my team, but I realize I could do more to encourage their feedback. Your post gets my brain thinking about a STOLPE TEAM suggestion box and a team meeting for just my group. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

    • If you implement it, be sure to let me know how it goes! Would love to see it effectively implemented.